Here is a look at six teams that will be listed as favorites throughout the season. This article contains certain trends, numbers and statistics to help you make picks on during the fall. Check back for an underdog summary on the remaining six teams in the Big Ten.
Glossary and Notes:
SU: straight up wins or losses; no spread. To bet on a SU winner, one would bet the money line. Ex. Wisconsin had 8 SU wins and 6 SU losses. If Wisconsin is -120 on the money line, it would cost $120 to win $100.
ATS: A team's record against the spread; bookmakers create a point spread for each game. Ex. Ohio State -7 versus Michigan; if Ohio State wins by 8 or more points, they cover. If the Buckeyes win by less than 7 or lose, then they did not cover the spread.
O/U: Over or under the total that bookmakers set for that particular game. Ex. The total in the Penn St- Michigan St game is set at 46.5, if the final score is 27-24 then the game goes over the total.
Favorite: The team that bookmakers think will win a particular game. Ex. Ohio State is -3 over Wisconsin; Ohio State is the favorite.
Underdog: The team that bookmakers think will lose a particular game. Ex. Wisconsin is +3 against Ohio State; Wisconsin is the underdog.
Data: I got this information from Covers and Team Rankings, both very useful databases.
*Best bets are in bold italics
Ohio State Buckeyes
Win- loss trends since 2008
- Following a win, the Buckeyes won the following game 80% of the time (38-9 SU) by an average margin of 12 points.
- After a loss, Ohio State won the following game 63% of the time (7-4 SU).
- Playing at Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes are 33-4 SU and won by an average margin of 20.3 points per game; both are the best in the Big Ten in that time period.
- Away from home, the Buckeyes won 68.2% of their games (15-7 SU) by an average of 6.1 points per game.
- Consistency: The Buckeyes have the fifth best winning percentage in the FBS since 2008 at 79.7% (51-13 SU).
Against the spread trends since 2008
- At home, the Buckeyes covered the spread 58.3% (21-15 ATS) of the time; the best in the conference.
- Away from Columbus, Ohio State was 14-7-1 ATS; also the best in the conference.
- The Buckeyes were underdogs only 14 times (five times in 2011), they covered the spread in 10 of those games.
- As a favorite, Ohio State accumulated a 29-19-1 record ATS; the best in the Big Ten.
- Cleaning up in the conference: Compared to the rest of the FBS, the Buckeyes covered the spread against their respective conference 66.7% (26-13-1 ATS) of the time, the third best cover percentage in the FBS between 2008-2012.
Over/ under trends since 2008
- Ohio State went under the total 55.7% of the time, good for the third most unders in the conference.
- Bookmakers did their job as the Buckeyes went 18-18 O/U at home.
- The under also hit 55% of the time away from home.
- But what about Urban Meyer's Florida teams? Surprisingly at Florida, Meyer's teams went 31-31-1 O/U. In 2007, the high powered Gator offense went over the total 10 out of 12 games.
- The 'Huskers were a conference best 5-1 after a loss.
- Nebraska had the second best winning percentage in the FBS (92.9%, 13-1 SU) at home.
- Since joining the Big Ten, Nebraska has won 60% (6-4 SU) of their road games.
- Quite the underdog: The Cornhuskers have won only one game as an underdog (1-5 SU) and lost by an average of 18.5 points per game in those games.
- Nebraska only covered the spread 50% (10-10-1 ATS) of the time as a favorite.
- The Cornhuskers have covered the spread only 43.8% of the time against conference opponents since joining the Big 10.
- On the road, Nebraska is 40% (4-6) ATS.
- Quite the underdogs part II: Not only did the 'Huskers lose five out of six games straight up as an underdog but they covered the spread in only one of those six games (16.7%, a conference worst).
- Nebraska has gone 13-12-1 O/U.
- After a bye week, the 'Huskers went under the total in three out of four games.
- As an underdog, Nebraska went over the total in five out of six games (83.3%, highest in the conference).
- High scoring blowouts? As away underdogs, the Cornhuskers went over the total in all four games by an average of 17.9 points.
- At home, the Wildcats are 22-10 SU.
- When listed as favorites, Northwestern won 82.8% (24-5 SU) of the time.
- The Wildcats have the second best winning percentage in the Big Ten when listed as underdogs 41.2% (14-20 SU).
- Home cooking: Northwestern is 16-2-0 SU when listed as a home favorite since 2008.
- Northwestern covered the spread 54% of the time, the second best percentage in the Big 10.
- On the road, the Wildcats are 16-11-0 ATS, covering 59.3% of the time.
- Northwestern was listed as home underdogs 12 times and they only covered the spread in five of those games.
- Destroying books: In 2012, Northwestern finished a FBS best 12-1-0 ATS, covering the spread an amazing 92.3% of the time.
- The Wildcats were pretty even when it comes to the total, with a 29-32-0 O/U mark.
- At home, Northwestern is a 50/50 split against the total, with 14 overs and 14 unders.
- Not so familiar foe: Since '08, the Wildcats have stayed under the total 61.9% of the time when facing an out of conference opponent.
Penn State Nittany Lions
- Penn State had the second best winning percentage in the Big Ten at 71.9% (46-18 SU)
- Following a win, the Nittany Lions had a 30-12 SU record, winning by an average margin of 9.8 points.
- Penn State had the best winning percentage on the road at 69.6% in the conference.
- Bouncing back: The Nittany Lions won a Big Ten best 73.3% of their games following a loss (11-4 SU).
- Following a loss, the Nittany Lions covered the spread 60% (9-6-0 ATS) of the time in their next game.
- Oddly enough, Penn State only covered the spread 43.9% (15-20-0 ATS) of the time at Beaver Stadium.
- Penn State covered only six out of the 18 games in which they were the underdog.
- Road warriors: The Nittany Lions posted a 14-7-2 ATS record on the road.
- Following a loss, the Nittany Lions went under the total nine times out of 15 games, the highest under percentage in the Big Ten.
- At Beaver Stadium, Penn State went under the total 38.2% (13-21-1 O/U) of the time, also the highest under percentage in the conference.
- Away from home, Penn State went over the total in 56.6% (13-10-0) of the games.
- Defensive battles: As a home favorite, the Nittany Lions went under the total 64.3% of the time, 18 unders out of 29 games.
- Michigan went barely over .500 with a 33-30 record.
- The Wolverines won only 38.5% (10-16 SU) of the time after suffering a loss.
- Michigan only won eight games in 23 tries on the road.
- Quite the underdog: The Wolverines won a measly six of the 26 games in which bookmakers declared them as the underdog, the average margin of loss was 10.9 points per game.
- Michigan is the worst team ATS in the conference, covering only 38.7% (24-38-1 ATS) of the time.
- Compared to the rest of the Big Ten, the Wolverines are also the worst team ATS following a loss, covering only 34.6% (9-17 ATS) of the time.
- Michigan covered 12 out of their last 40 games (30%) in conference play.
- Bet the home team: The Wolverines have only covered seven of their last 23 games on the road, the worst in the Big Ten.
- Following a bye week, the Wolverines went over the total in 66.7% (6-3 O/U) of those games.
- Michigan went over the total 16 out of 26 games following a defeat.
- Shootouts at the Big House: The Wolverines went over the total 58.3% of the time at home.
- The Badgers won 70% of their games with a 47-20 record SU.
- Following a win, Wisconsin won 32 out of 46 games SU.
- When the Badgers were a home favorite, they won SU 89.7% of the time, second best in the Big Ten.
- Home field advantage: The Badgers have the 11th best home winning percentage in the country since 2008 (85.3%, 29-5 SU)
- Wisconsin defeated opponents by an average of 13.4 points and covered the spread in 55.6% of games following a victory.
- At home, the Badgers covered the spread 56.2% of the time by a conference best 3.7 points over the spread.
- Wisconsin covered the spread at a 57.1% (16-12-1 ATS) rate as a home favorite and defeated their opponents by an average of 24.1 points per game.
- More film work? In non-conference games, Wisconsin covered the spread only 43.5% of the time.
- Wisconsin led the nation with a 73.2 over percentage, 30-11-1 O/U ratio in conference games.
- As a home favorite, the Badgers went over the total 67.9% (19-9-0 O/U) of the time.
- Wisconsin went over the total in 33 out of 48 games when listed as a favorite.
- What the?! Wisconsin leads the entire FBS in overs since 2008 with 42. Yes, more than Oregon (41), Baylor (36), Texas Tech (36) and Houston (37).